Monday, October 8, 2018

#InkTober2018 Check-in: My Head is Spinning

10/7/18 Swan gourd

I didn’t think I’d be doing another InkTober check-in already, but yesterday’s and today’s sketches left me dazed and confused, and it helps me to analyze the issue by thinking out loud (and my way of doing that is by writing).

Hatching a flat surface is easy enough; it’s just a matter of practicing making lines so that they are evenly spaced and consistent in weight. But a curved or spherical surface is a whole other matter. Before I began sketching the “swan gourd” yesterday (yes, it really looks like that – I bought it at Metropolitan Market, which is full of bizarre gourds and squashes this time of year), I thought about an important technique I learned from Suzanne Brooker when using colored pencil and graphite: Follow the shape of the form with the pencil stroke. Even though the drawing will eventually be completely or nearly completely covered in graphite or pigment, the many, many repeated subtle pencil strokes will show through the overall hue or tone, and they will visually reinforce the three-dimensional form of the subject.

I even reviewed lessons in hatching in Alphonso Dunn’s guide to Pen & Ink Drawing because I remembered seeing excellent examples of the same principle I had learned from Suzanne: The hatch marks follow the shape of the surface and change direction with the change in plane.  

Intellectually, I understood this concept, and I had practiced it regularly while I was studying with Suzanne. Yet when I sat down with the swan gourd, I got very confused about which way the marks should curve.

I needed lots more practice, so today I tried more pedestrian produce. The banana went well – it has relatively simple plane changes – but the lumpy, bumpy Bartlett threw me some curve balls, and my head was spinning again. (I realize now that instead of sketching an apple whenever I test new colored pencils, a pear would give me better practice.) Stay tuned for more lumpy produce.

10/8/18 Bartlett and banana
Technical note: I’m avoiding color as I do these hatched value studies in ballpoint pen this month, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use colored paper! As I was looking at the banana and pear, wishing I could use colored pencil, I remembered a Shizen Design sketchbook I was given, which contains five colors of paper in one book. The thin paper buckles even from heavily applied markers, but it’s very friendly toward ballpoint. In fact, every paper I’ve ever tried with ballpoint has been friendly toward it. I’ve never met an art medium that was so indiscriminate in its paper pairings.


  1. I applaud you for all this hatching. I just don't have the patience for it. I love the swan gourd.

  2. Great analytical thinking on the hatching process. There's always a problem that needs to be solved and almost always you find the right answer. Inktober surprise!

  3. Thank you, Joan and Mel! Hatching with ballpoint has definitely given me new things to think about and learn. I am enjoying the challenges!


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